WEEK TWO: Sacraments (Celebrating the Christian Mystery)
DAY 5: Because It’s the Right Thing to Do (The Sacraments at the Service of Communion)
I once took a group of high school youth to visit Fr. Larry Craig, who was the chaplain at Cook County Jail in Chicago. Fr. Larry was a pretty tough cookie with a chiseled face like Clint Eastwood and a husky voice like Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). One of the kids asked him how many prisoners’ lives he had “turned around.” He said, “Let’s see…I been doin’ this thing for 15 years…about 5000 inmates….I’d say 6. Next question.”
I just had to interrupt. “Excuse me, Father…15 years, 5000 inmates, and you feel you’ve turned around 6 lives? Sorry, but I have to ask, what keeps you motivated with a ‘success rate’ like that?”
He looked at me and said, “I do it because it’s the right thing to do. Jesus said, ‘When I was in prison, you visited me.’ He didn’t say, ‘when I was in high school, you took me on a ski trip.’ Next question.”
Wow. That story has inspired me many times, especially when I find myself thinking that I deserve recognition for something that I’ve accomplished. Sure it’s nice to receive recognition for certain achievements. It’s very affirming. However, there are some things that we are called to do for which we will not receive recognition. We do them because they are the right thing to do. For Christians, the call to be of service to others is something we do, not for recognition, but out of a sense of loving obligation to one another – it is the right thing to do. When we serve others, we renounce ourselves and put the needs of others first.
The Catholic faith challenges us to live in such a way that we place the needs of others before our own needs. Beginning with baptism, we commit ourselves to live as members of the Body of Christ. We are at the service of the community. This commitment to the service of the community is further signified by the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders. These vocations reveal to us the selfless love that all of the baptized are called to share. For this reason, the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders are referred to as the Sacraments at the Service of Communion – they remind us that “it’s not about me!” In a society and culture that promote the importance of the individual, the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony challenge us to put the needs of others first – because it’s the right thing to do.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.
- Who has been a “Fr. Larry Craig” in your life – someone who has selflessly served the needs of others without any or very little recognition?
- What is something that you do, day in and day out, simply because it’s the right thing to do?
- How do the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders remind us that “it’s not about me?”
- During the Year of Faith, what will you commit to (re-commit to) that is an expression of selfless love and putting the needs of others first?
- Whose marriage is a powerful sign to you of selfless love and service?
- Whose priesthood is a powerful sign to you of selfless love and service?
Lord, Jesus, you taught us, not to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others. Grant me the grace I need to be of service to others. Help me to put my own needs aside and to focus on the needs of others. Bless our Church, Lord, with good priests and healthy marriages, so that, together, we may build up the community of faith and bring praise to your name. Amen.
- On the Camino: Three Friends
- The Blessing of Married Couples
- Feeling Good Together
- Washing Feet
- Becoming a Priest
- Jesus Our Priest
CCC References: 1533 – 1666
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.